The city of Lakeland’s property tax rate will remain at $5.46 per $1,000 of assessed value, city commissioners decided Thursday in approving a $626.8 million budget. Boosted by a higher-than-expected dividend from Lakeland Electric and rising property values, the budget retains funding for downtown development incentives, affordable housing, a homelessness caseworker and design of a cultural history center at the main library.
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Candidates for City Commission agreed far more than they disagreed at a forum today hosted by the Republican Club of Lakeland. The issue that brought the sharpest differences was whether the current commission was correct in giving Lakeland Regional Health a five-year break on increases in lease payments to the city. More on that after video of the forum; skip ahead to the 16:15 mark to hear candidate statements:More
Lakeland is represented by at least a dozen business leaders in Florida Trend’s new Florida 500 list of business executives whom the magazine’s editors deem “most influential.” Organizations represented include AgAmerica Lending, Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland Regional Health, Publix Super Markets, Saunders Real Estate, The Ruthvens and Watson Clinic. More
At a ceremony starting now (8:30 a.m. Wednesday), Florida Polytechnic University breaks ground on a two-story, 85,000-square-foot Applied Research Center. It’s a short walk across a bridge from the landmark Innovation, Science, and Technology Building. Builder: Skanska USA | Architect: HOK
IRMA: The Morning Paper leads off with a pair of articles recalling the chaos created when Hurricane Irma tore through Lakeland two years ago this week. One is about a 70-year-old woman who is frustrated by a lack of assistance from FEMA and her insurance company in fixing her faulty wiring and leaky roof that date to Irma. The other one is about Irma, the mascot cat that has roamed Crowder Brothers Ace Hardware since the time of the hurricane.
SCHOOL FOOD WASTE: Prompted by a First United Methodist Church associate pastor and the founder of the Combee Connection Ministry, Polk public schools officials are pondering whether and how to set up food-sharing tables in school lunchrooms to divert fruit and packaged food that would otherwise be discarded to students in need.
BONNET SPRINGS SCULPTURE: On Sunday, Platform Art will unveil the design for a sculpture to be installed at the massive park scheduled to open in early 2021. “Sound Wall” was designed by All Saints Academy students Laura Prazdnicane and Lucy Zhang | Event info
FLORIDA POLY: The Lakeland-based state university has hired a new fundraiser: VP of Advancement Kathleen “Kathy” Bowman has been at Purdue University since 2011.
Democrat Alan Cohn of New Tampa is making another run for the Congressional seat that represents most of Lakeland. Cohn, a former TV reporter and news anchor, announced today he is seeking to replace first-term Republican Rep. Ross Spano of Dover. More
Unwholly Bikes, a nonprofit that turns used bicycle parts into working bikes for students in need, has scheduled a Saturday grand opening for its workshop at 925 E. Rose Street.